The British Empire and the Second World War
In 1939 Hitler went to war not just with Great Britain; he also went to war with the whole of the British Empire, the greatest empire that there had ever been. In the years since 1945 that empire has disappeared, and the crucial fact that the British Empire fought together as a whole during the war has been forgotten. All the parts of the empire joined the struggle and were involved in it from the beginning, undergoing huge changes and sometimes suffering great losses as a result. The war in the desert, the defence of Malta and the Malayan campaign, and the contribution of the empire as a whole in terms of supplies, communications and troops, all reflect the strategic importance of Britain's imperial status. Men and women not only from Australia, New Zealand and India but from many parts of Africa and the Middle East all played their part. Winston Churchill saw the war throughout in imperial terms. The British Empire and the Second World War emphasises a central fact about the Second World War that is often forgotten.
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As the Royal Navy staggered under the weight of too many enemies at once,
convoys became vital to imperial ... and to augment the stock of warships most
intimately connected with convoy defence, corvettes and destroyers.16 Puny
Major ports in Ceylon, Egypt, Gibraltar, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the Sudan
and Trinidad became assembly points for ships and their escorts waiting to form
into convoy. The famous lHX' (Halifax) Atlantic and 'WS' ('Winston's Specials') ...
Aside from food shortages, disease was a constant worry, and many people
suffered from fleas. What kept Malta alive and in the fight was the success of the
Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy in fighting convoys through, often with great ...